California requires employers in certain industries to rehire employees laid-off due to COVID-19

On April 16, 2021 Governor Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 93, which requires employers in certain industries to offer laid-off employees due to COVID-19 all job positions that become available for which the employee is qualified. Employees included in the act are those who had (1) been employed for at least six months in the twelve months preceding January 1, 2021; (2) worked two hours or more per week for a covered employer; and (3) were most recently separated from employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e. due to a public health directive, shutdown order, lack of business, reduction of force, etc.).

Employers covered by the new law include hotels, private clubs, airport hospitality operations, airport service providers, and those who provide janitorial, building maintenance or security services to offices, retail establishments or other commercial buildings.

The law imposes certain obligations to these employers including:

  • Recall procedures and timeline for recalling employees back to work, including preferences based on seniority.

  • Offering laid-off employees information about job positions that become available after the effective date of the bill for which the employee is qualified.

  • Offering positions to laid-off employees based on a preference system rooted in years of performance for the employer.

  • Providing written notice (by hand or to employee’s last known address, and by email and text if such information is available) of the job offer to laid-off employees within five days of establishing the new position.

  • Employer’s must allow at least five days for the employee to respond to the new job offer.

  • If the employee accepts a position, then the employer must recall the employee back to work.

  • If the employer chooses not to recall laid off employees for a position for which they qualify, the employer must provide written notice explaining why within 30 days.

  • Maintaining records relating to the new law for three years.

  • Employers may not retaliate against employees exercising their rights under the law.

This new law also establishes significant remedies for employees who file complaints with the DLSE. Under the law, the DLSE may award to the complainant hiring and reinstatement rights, front or back pay, value of the benefits the complainant would have received under the employer’s benefits plan, and interest.

This law takes effect immediately and is set to remain in effect through December 31, 2024. Accordingly, employers covered by this new law should immediately address their policies and procedures for recalling employees laid off due to COVID-19. If you have questions or require help in this process, please reach out to the authors of this post or the Hogan Lovells lawyer with whom you usually work.

*An author of this post, Shannon Finnegan, is a Law Clerk in the New York office.

 

Authored by  Tao Leung & Shannon Finnegan

 

 

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